Agro dealer-farmer interactions in Uganda and Tanzania: A policy perspective

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Monica Kansiime

Abstract

Smallholder farmers’ access to productivity-enhancing inputs, advisory services and technologies is limited by weak extension services. This study examines agro dealer-farmer interactions, and policy context to understand their potential as infomediaries for farmers. Interviews and focus group discussions were conducted with 102 agro dealers, and 257 farmers (42% female), plus observations at agro dealer point-of-sale. While a majority of farmers relied on public extension, 20% and 10% in Tanzania and Uganda respectively had agro dealers as their primary source of agricultural advice. Agro dealers assumed a diversified role focusing on providing access to products, agricultural advice, and services. Farmers, however, expressed low confidence in agricultural advice provided, owing to the low technical knowledge by the dealers. Policy elements supporting agro dealership were; certification of operators, minimum education requirements, and regulation on input packaging, all aimed at ensuring the quality of products and service provision. However, government enforcement was considered weak leaving room for the sale of poor-quality products and infiltration by fake operators. Supporting agro dealers with farmer-friendly information materials can enhance their advisory role, especially to farmers underserved by extension. Government monitoring efforts can be complemented by strengthened agro dealer associations and harnessing benefits of ICTs to track products.
Keywords: Extension, infomediaries, inputs, point-of-sale

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